Today marks the first day of week four of my ongoing experiment of depriving myself of media on my mobile gadgets. Initially I thought to reintroduce these services back to my phone. But I won‘t and the reason is both simple and sad.
Increasingly our lives depend on our attention. If I want to perform with my full potential I do need entertainment in order to balance out work. But I didn‘t realise how poisonous (social) media on phones can be. The first thing in the morning was spending approximately half an hour on my phone before I even started my day. Last thing I would do was staying awake at night, checking my phone until I finally fell asleep. During the day, every minute I could find was spent glancing on either my iPad or my phone for mindless web-surfing. For the last three weeks, this has stopped.
Algorithms dictated my day, everyday, 24/7, feeding me distractions that fitted my world view specifically. This is dangerous and currently divides our political world into hate-spreading tribes. Just mentioning politics often starts to turn honest, well mannered, hard working people into vulgar advocates for extremist views. We don‘t get bored anymore, which is messing up our attention span and creativity. I wrote more articles in the last three weeks than the last three months prior to it, just because I sometimes sat down and literally had nothing to do.
It is disturbingly sad how much technology started to shape our day. We gave up control for the benefit of „convenience“ without even realising. I love tech, I will continue to use tech. But it is time for me to break up with (social) media access 24/7. Ten years ago, I had to sit down at the computer to access the internet. I did, enjoyed it for some time and then shut down the machine and went on with my life. I want to have this freedom of choice back.
We are not biologically equipped to be fuelled by dopamine all the time. We are not designed to fake a life of excitement around every corner to hundreds of illusionary friends that would leave us with the blink of an eye if something better came up, amplifying our misery. We were told that everyone is special. But that is a blatant lie that fuels our depressing state. Being special or famous should not be the main focus of our society. We should not be driven by narcissism, which will leave us lonely, empty and depressed. Contribution, love and healthy relationships to the people around you are way more important than showing off how great of a life we (pretend to) have with all the material goods we don‘t have a purpose for, just to tell the followers how wealthy we are. It makes me angry how much I still fell for this psychologically engineered advertisement. Things that are this harmful to me should not be part of my life, period.
I want to live in a Star Trek like future, in which logic, empathy and the higher principle of acquiring knowledge and improving the lives of everybody is center of focus for an entire global community. I don’t want to become a teacher because I am money-hungry (obviously). I want to give something back to thousand of kids and actively shape the future of our world. This principle should be part of our every day life. Jobs, laws, the economy, the government. Everything was initially created to improve the lives of everyone. People should choose their craft in order to help the overall society and contribute in a meaningful way. We need the gardener as much as we need the computer engineer. If people mess up or are left behind, we should help them out to get back to their feet. The system was designed with love and contribution in mind. Giving up some of our time and resources to improve everybody’s life. I don’t want to forget that.
This experiment remembered me why I started my minimalism journey in the first place: To fill out the void with meaning, not with distraction and material goods (which basically are the same). If I need to look up something on my phone, I can. But it ends there. Games should stay on consoles and websites on computers. I want to use my phone as a phone, not a short-term shortcut to dopamine release. I want to actively shape a better world, and this is why an experiment of three weeks of (social) media free phone usage extended indefinitely.